Thursday, 19 November 2015

Review: Peak Design "Slide" Camera Strap

The majority of people that purchase a new camera will use the supplied camera strap or buy a cheap neck strap that may look and feel more comfortable. I mean... how important is a camera strap anyway!! Most people would say it wasn't important at all ....well they're wrong. Take it from us (and we are Professional Travel Photographers) that the humble camera strap is crucial in the difference between not only how you shoot but also how your neck feels at the end of a long day. For years, we used the "comfortable" neck strap that was extremely comfortable at the beginning but by the end of the day we were relieved to finally be able to remove it. Sure we could have had the strap over our head and sitting on one shoulder but this made it impractical when taking shots on the go.

There had to be a better way. Several years ago we started using a sling strap made by Joby (the same guys that brought you the nifty Gorilla Pod) and we absolutely loved it. We immediately tossed all our other straps in the bin and used nothing but these however the problem with most sling straps on the market is that they are connected to the tripod thread at the bottom of the camera. Now this is great until of course you need to use a tripod and then you have to laboriously remove the strap to mount the camera on the tripod. Sure, with the Joby strap you can mount a plate to the bottom of the camera which can hold the strap and mount a Quick Release for the tripod however this can be a problem depending on the size of your Quick Release (this is the case with our Manfrotto 168 Ball Head).

And then along came Peak Design with their "Slide" strap with its very unique design. They put their heads together and came up with a very innovative way for connecting the strap to the camera that would keep the bottom of the camera free and also easy-peasy to remove if needed. They invented the "Anchor Link". The nifty thing about the Anchor Link is that they can connect to the normal camera strap connection point (eyelets, lugs etc) or any other connection point such as an L Bracket (for use in Arca Swiss quick release systems). In the image below they are the small red & black objects with the loop. The newly upgraded *Dyneema-corded Anchors can each hold well over 90kg (200lbs.Once the loop is fed through the eyelets (lugs) on the camera or other connection point the small plastic dime-sized (5 cent coin for us Aussies) connection slides securely into the buckles at the end of the strap. Make sure you are pushing down on the dime sized connector while sliding into the buckles.
*Dyneema is apparently the worlds strongest fibre



The strap is made from what seems to be very high quality "seatbelt" material which you would normally see in a vehicle. This, in our view, will make it last a very very long time. The great thing about the material, and especially its width, is that it would be very difficult to slash through by thieves doing a "slash and grab" when attempting to steal your camera. The fact that the strap is used as a sling would make it difficult anyway but this makes it even more secure in our view. The strap can be easily adjusted using either of the 2 durable aluminium quick-adjust handles. The section of strap that would cover your shoulder is smooth on one side and silicone grip on the other making it easy to flip the strap over if you want to wear just over one shoulder (not that we would ever use it like this in our travel photography). Included is also an ARCA-Swiss compatible tripod plate.

Other than Black (Classic) as seen above the strap also comes in a couple of colours -
Tallac (an extra USD$5.00)
Lassen (an extra USD$5.00)

The things we love about this strap -

  1. It is extremely well designed and sturdy
  2. The Anchor Links to connect to the camera are the best design in the market
  3. Makes it a cinch to use your tripod with the strap attached or easy to remove the strap without being fiddly.
  4. Looks great
  5. Brilliant for photographers who do not carry backpack type bags
  6. Takes the strain off the neck reducing muscle pain and headaches
Now, as much as we love this strap there are just a few negatives (sorry but there's always got to be a downside)

  1. Its not really a sling, well not like the Joby Sling. The whole strap needs to slide for the camera to be raised to the eye whereas with the Joby Sling the camera will actually slide along the strap as you raise it to your eye.Therefore you can use the Joby Strap underneath your backpack and it works fineAs a result the Peak Design Slide is not great when using it underneath a backpack camera bag. You could use it by putting the strap on top of the backpack bag. We've met a photographer that uses it this way and has no problem so we guess it is up to the individual to make up their mind. So for those that walk around with a backpack camera bag all day this is, in our opinion, not an ideal strap. Having said that, Peak Design recommends the Capture Camera Clip as being more ideal for those that carry backpack camera bags. 
  2. The strap rides up on the side of your neck. This can be quite uncomfortable unless you are constantly wearing a shirt/top with a collar that will stop it rubbing on your neck. For a short period of time this is not a problem but can see it being an issue over a long period.
  3. The stiffened area of the strap that would normally be on the shoulder in our opinion is a little too stiff. As a result this makes putting the camera in your bag with the strap attached a little more awkward. This may become a little more pliable over time with regular use.

Below is a short 4minute video about the strap -

And here's another video about using the strap - 


To buy off the Peak Design website is USD$59.95 + Delivery or AUD$89.00 from a local supplier. If you like the design and style it is a great investment and possibly the only camera strap that you will ever need.

All in all, we highly recommend the Peak Design Slide camera strap and we hope this blog post will encourage you to give it a try. We definitely think you won't regret it.

If you have any comments or questions about this product then we'd love to hear from you.

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Thursday, 5 November 2015

Review - Tamron SP AF90mm F/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 & Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Macro 1:1 Di VC USD

As Travel Photographers we really have never had the opportunity or the need to shoot Macro images. However since starting our Meetup group we have met many photography enthusiasts that were interested in this genre. We were fortunate to have been given the opportunity to test both the Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di SP Macro and Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di VC USD Macro. These lenses would be considered Portrait/Macro lenses and ideal for these types of photography.
Shot with Sony A7R using metabones adapter with Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di SP Macro (Nikon mount) 

The Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di SP Macro  (Model: 272E) - with & without hood
Resolution of the Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di SP Macro  (Model: 272E) 
Chart from 
Photozone.de
This lens will give outstanding results across the whole image at f/4, f5.6 & f/8
Whats the difference between the two lenses you ask? Well, in image quality we really haven't been able to pick them apart. The Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di SP Macro  (Model: 272E) is the older of the two lenses and apparently has been a legend of a lens for Macro photographers for many years. The Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di VC USD Macro (Model: F004) was only released in 2013. Both lenses have 1:1 magnification ratio. 

There is quite a price difference between the 2 lenses with the only difference being;

  • The F004 model has ultrasonic autofocusing (faster & quieter internal focusing) while the older (272E) lens barrel extends when focussing at closer distances making the length grow substantially (see below left image)
  • The F004 model also has VC (vibration compensation) which will allow you to handhold at slightly slower shutter speeds while attaining a low ISO setting (although this feature is not available on the Sony mount as Image Stabilisation is available in-camera).
  • Slight improvement in sharpness, reduction of flare and chromatic aberration which is due to technological advances in the the glass elements

The build quality of both lenses is excellent and have a very smooth focus ring. Unlike most lenses where there is a small switch for changing between Auto/Manual Focus -switching between manual and auto-focus on the 272E model is via a focus clutch mechanism by moving the focus ring back and forth. It will reveal a Blue coloured ring when in Manual Mode. We quite like this feature as it can be done without taking your eye away from the viewfinder. This is great for using AF and then switching to Manual Focus to fine tune the focus although you will find that switching between the two will require some fine tuning.


Left: The Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di SP Macro (Model: 272E) when focussing close
Right: 
Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di VC USD Macro (Model: F004)
Resolution of the Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di VC USD Macro (Model: F004
Chart from 
Photozone.de
This lens will give outstanding results across the whole image at f/4, f5.6 & f/8
The newer lens (F004) has been weather sealed which is an improvement over the older model and these days is quite a necessary feature for all lenses and camera bodies. It features a virtually silent USD (Ultrasonic Drive) and Vibration Compensation which is Tamron's version of image stabilisation which is finding its way into many lenses these days. Tamron claim that this will allow you to handhold at shutter speeds up to 4 stops slower. We always take these claims with a grain of salt and always halve the amount of f-stops that they recommend. Therefore when using this lens we would recommend only handholding 2-3 stops slower. 

Resolution - both lenses are outstanding at the critical apertures from edge to edge. Wide open both lenses are great but at f/4, f/5.6 & f/8 they are brilliant although based on the charts above the newer lens is sharper across the board, which is to be expected. From f/11 and onwards the quality deteriorates due to diffraction but this is normal for any lens. Considering that you would not generally use this lens for great depth of field images then this is not worth worrying about. 

All in all we have had a great experience with both of these lenses. They are both a delight to use. There is however a substantial price difference between the two and this is understandable considering the improvements that have been made to the newer model. The 272E model currently retails for AUD$400-450 and the F004 model for AUD$700-800 (if you have a Sony camera you can buy this for just over AUD$500 but you will nee d an adapter to work on E or FE mount cameras). Below is the recommendation of Photozone.de for these lenses and we would have to concur.


Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di SP Macro  (Model: 272E)
Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di VC USD Macro (Model: F004)
Conclusion: If your specialty is Macro Photography with the occasional portrait shot we would recommend you splash out and buy the more expensive Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di VC USD Macro (Model: F004) however if you are adding another lens to your bag for the occasional Macro and portrait shot we would go for the Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di SP Macro (Model: 272E) which is the lens we will be purchasing. Either way you will not regret your purchase of either of these lenses. 

Note: The mounts available for Sony are for A mount cameras, If using an E mount or FE mount camera you will need to purchase an adapter. 

Below are some of the image we have taken with the lenses -
Shot with Nikon D7000 with Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di VC USD Macro (Nikon mount)
Shot with Nikon D7000 with Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di SP Macro (Nikon mount)
Shot with Nikon D7000 with Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di VC USD Macro (Nikon mount)
If you have any comments or questions about these lenses then we'd love to hear from you.

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